"Satan's Toybox: Demonic Dolls" Book Review
Edited by Stacey Turner
2011, 290 pages, Fiction
Released on November 5th, 2011
Creepy dolls. I confess I have a thing for them. If you love horror, you probably love them as well. From movies like Puppetmaster, Dolls, and Child's Play to whatever pair of lifeless eyes you remember from your childhood, there's just something about sinister dolls that has made them a horror staple. When I heard that Angelic Knight Press had put together an anthology titled Demonic Dolls for its "Satan's Toybox" series, I had to get my hands on it. Coming in at almost 300 pages, I was afraid that some of the stories might be old rehashes or simply poor narratives stretched to include the doll element. Luckily, none of that happened: Demonic Dolls is a great collection that serves as an homage to sinister toy persons.
Demonic Dolls gets rolling with two stories that set the pace. First comes Scott M. Goriscak's Playing with Dolls, a story that mixes obsession and black magic delivered through dolls. Then comes Kate Monroe's Lullaby, which is the first of a few tales that put together a doll with evil intentions and a child that has to deal with the toy's voice and desires.
While those two stories serve as an introduction, they don't even scratch the surface when it comes to the variety of spins the anthology has. Here are some more highlights:
- Tim Marquitz's Illicit Dreams leaves the child's play behind with its deliciously gory and downright pornographic prose. When a man becomes obsessed with a sex doll, he pays a hefty sum to take it home with him, but he could've never imagined that his pleasure toy would end up costing much more than money. This tasty morsel packs a violent punch and takes the anthology into its first foray into the adult section of the genre.
- Marissa Farrar's Adeline inhabits the familiar territory of a child and her doll, but what comes out of that relationship resembles a slaughterhouse more than a playground. A tale of abuse and vengeance, this one cuts deep and sticks with you after the last word.
- Stacey Turner's Souls Collector takes a unique approach to the possessed doll theme. When a mother lands a much needed house-sitting job, she moves into a gorgeous mansion with her young daughter. There is a room full of dolls in the house, and when they start appearing in her daughter's room, she reprimands her. However, she quickly learns that her kid has nothing to do with the moving toy. Instead of keeping everything a secret, Turner puts the truth out there and focuses on how the mother deals with it. This creepy ghost story has a finale that can only be described as a supernatural whirlwind.
- Rob Miller's Monsters are Made is the shortest story in the anthology, but it presents an amazing idea that's enough to make it a standout.
- Claudia Lefeve's Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is the story of a girl's who is given some worry dolls by her mom. As the child tells the little playthings her worries, things start to happen. Entertaining and full of tension, this one reads like a cool Twilight Zone episode with a cultural twist.
- Sue Mydliak's The Mattel Nightmare is disturbing in the best of ways. Full of echoes from Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives, reading this one will ensure you never look at Barbie and Ken the same way ever again.
- Blaze McRob's Doll Most Evil brings things to a close with a very amusing tale of camaraderie and vengeance that features an unlikely duo. A healthy dose of death, destruction, and retribution makes this last story a great closer.
If you already get the sense that something evil hides behind the dead eyes of some toys, get yourself a copy of Demonic Dolls and I guarantee that feeling will never go away. Who knows? You might even be tempted to get rid of that disturbing memento looking at you from inside the closet.
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